…and it's surgery time, too.

I think it was around 11:30 or 11:45 at that point.  The anesthesiologist explained that he was going to give me a tranquilizer (or did he say sedative?  I can’t remember), then numb me from the waist down.  I swallowed and nodded, mostly thinking at that moment of long, long needles inserted into me in terrible places in order to numb me from the waist down.  I hoped the tranquilizer would be effective enough that I wouldn’t scream or anything.

He injected three hypodermics into the IV line.  Then there was a blue cloth of some kind in front of me, over my belly, like a small curtain blocking my view of the place where I was being cut, and a nurse looking down at me.  I said, “What’s going on?”  She said, “You’re done.”  I think I remember them starting to remove the blue cloth, but I fell asleep.

I woke up in the recovery room, unable to move my legs.  I knew it was the local causing it, and was never really worried, but nevertheless felt the need to fight it and to try to move my legs.  I tried very hard.  I failed utterly.  I fell asleep again.  When I woke up, I tried to move my feet, failed again, and slept more.  Then I woke up again, tried to move my feet, succeeded a little, and slept.

I was awake when  I was wheeled back into the room. A kiss and a smile from Reesa, and she spoke, I think, about blogging things, but I was a bit fuzzy.  I said, “I can move my feet!  See?”  Then I was in and out of sleep.  I think Sergio and Irene came back then (Irene is the brother of the guy who picked us up at the airport, and Sergio is her husband; they all work for Dr. Natera, the surgeon, and they’re both wonderful) and asked how I was, which was fine.

The local wore off and I hurt badly.  At various times, I was given a pain shot via the IV, a pain shot in my butt, and a pill the doctor described as a “narcotic.”  None of them appeared to do any good.  They all asked how I was, and I said, “There is pain.”  “Little pain?” they all asked.  “A lot of pain,” I said, permanently marking myself as a wimp.  Then I coughed.  That proved to be a terrible mistake.  Reesa gave me a pillow and advised me to clutch it in front of my stomach if I needed to cough.  Good advice; it helped.

Eventually they fed me: rice, and some sort of chicken dish; good for a hospital though not enough of it.  I think this was around 3:30 in the afternoon.

I faded in and out much of the rest of day, until about 8 when I was fed again.  Not enough.  Feh.  I wanted food.  I also wanted a cigarette.  Fortunately, in Mexico, the nicotine inhaler that is by far the best system for not smoking ever, is cheap, and doesn’t require a perscription, so that kept me reasonably sane.

I think it was during that time that Irene and Sergio took Reesa out for some shopping, which was awfully sweet of them.  Or maybe that was earlier; my brain was not in top form, and I did a lot of the things Vlad does when his brain is messed up: getting the order of events wrong.  Nice to have the reassurance I got that stuff right.  (Pats self on back).  Anyway, Reesa showed me the stuff she’d gotten for the kids, and a really beautiful ash tray for me, with what seems to be Aztec designs in it.  I’m using it as I write this.

When you're lost in the rain in Jaurez . . .

As Reesa said, the couple who picked us up to drive us from El Paso to Jaurez were exceptionally nice.  Up until then my arrangements with the medical group (medicaltourismco.com) had been very professional in feel; but this felt personal and family-like; in part because of the child car-chair in the back seat.  I suppose this ought to be have bothered me, but in fact it was reassuring.

We drove past the border easily enough, seeing the rows and rows and rows of cars waiting to cross back into the US.  My hosts made a remark about new laws at the border, and how long the wait was to cross.  I muttered, “Bush!” and they laughed and nodded.  It seemed that one word, my expression of contempt for Bush, at once caused the relaxation of a certain tension I hadn’t even been aware of, as if they suddenly went, “All right, these two are some of the good guys.”

Some of my prejudices were challenged, others reinforced.  For an example of the latter, as we drove through a considerable part of Jaurez, I kept waiting to see a part of the city that didn’t cry out: The poor live here.  I didn’t see one.  Poor walls, run-down looking small housing, signs of neglect were in each of the many neighborhoods we passed through, making me feel like a privileged American.  Which I am, in fact; that it was my comparative poverty that drove me to make this health-care choice does nothing to change my comparative wealth relative to so many of those I passed.  While I curse the American health-care system, which caters to those better off than I; I am also aware that, by the standards of most of the world, I am a wealthy man.  This is something I knew before, but now it hits me in face.  It is humbling.

Walking into the mall the night before surgery, we saw a teen-age couple sneak into a spot underneath a stairway to make out in semi privacy.  My biggest regret of the trip is that I didn’t grab Reesa and go make out in the spot next to them; thought of it just too late.

For those who are as shallow as I enjoy watching people, I have two remarks:  one, the Mexican girls (and most of the women) in the mall wear too much makeup, and, two, Mexican men (and many of the boys) are beautiful.  I mean, damn! I want to look like that.  The only drawback is how many of them seem to know how good-looking they are.

Other differences between a mall in the USA and the one in Jaurez had to be looked for.  The first is that there are more whole families there, and they seemed to my eye to be really happy to be out together, and having fun.  The second is a women’s fashion issue the only my practiced eye would have picked up: there were a good number of low-cut dresses and tops, and a quite reasonable number of extremely short skirts and shorts; but no bare midriffs, which is odd considering the heat, and I assume to be cultural.

As Reesa has said, the hospital is clean and modern, the room by far the nicest I’ve ever seen.  I felt shame at being in a foreign country unable to speak the language, but I saw no signs of impatience or annoyance at it from the staff or those associated with me.  I didn’t run into any other American patients in the hotel, but no doubt there were some.

They came and prepped me for surgery, which involved making me wear the same hospital gown every other hospital makes you wear, sticking an IV in my hand, a consultation with a very pleasant and professional anesthesiologist, and a transfer on my back onto a gurney.  There was little waiting; little time for my nervousness to get to the panic point, if it wanted to.  Down the elevator, reassuring smiles, and into the operating theater with all of those lights (not yet lit) staring down at me.  Here we go.

Off to Mexico

So, it all started with a standard STD check, when the doctor said, “How long have you had that hernia?” Never at a loss for words, I instantly shot back, “That what?” “Hernia,” he said, apparently unphased by my wit. “That’s a hernia.”

This was, you understand, two days before I left for Vegas to move my stuff.

So, anyway, here we are today, and Reesa and I are off to Mexico, the land of mescal, mariachi bands, and $3000 (as opposed to $10,000 or $15,000) hernia surgery. I should be back in a few days, if all goes well. Keep the fires burning, and say many witty things while I’m gone.


I’m back from Las Vegas, the truck is unloaded (many thanks for all the help!), and as of just now I have internet connection.  I’ll be getting caught up on email as soon as possible, then working on Fourth Street programming, on which I’m horribly behind.

Thanks again to those who helped so much with the loading and unloading of the truck.

Out of Touch

Off to Las Vegas.  I’ll be packing Wednesday, loading Thursday, and leaving Friday in the unlikely even that all goes well.  I’ll be out of touch until I get back to Texas, barring the unforseen.

If anyone wants to help me load, mention it here, and Kit and Reesa will tell you how to find the house.

See you all in a week or so.